Mark Field’s visit to Sri Lanka is very, very significant. His pronouncements are threaded by the paternalistic air of an Etonian schoolmaster pontificating to students. That should not be allowed to mask the Sword of Damocles that is above the Sri Lankan body via the UNHCR as the instrument of the Western international community.
Field’s title as “Minister for Asia and the Pacific” gives the game away. In the Pacific Ocean USA’s “Pacific Asia Command” (PAC) holds the commanding military heights. In the Indian Ocean USA’s massive base at Diego Garcia plays watchdog for the West. Diego Garcia atoll and island, let me remind readers,. was handed over to USA by UK in December 1966/68 through a process which forcefully removed all its indigenized Chagossian inhabitants – one of the most horrendous human rights violations of the 20th century imposed on a harmless body of people.
"The US Ambassador in Colombo, Robert Blake, consistently pressurized the GoSL to institute ceasefire spells"
However, it is Mark Field’s message to Sri Lankans -- threats wrapped in cotton really – that we must reflect upon. The Western power talons driving this project were displayed in a striking ethnographic encounter in in the UNHCR Office corridors in Geneva in September 2011 when the US ambassador to that Council, one Eileen Donahue, turned on the Sri Lankan ambassador in some fury and said, “We’ll get you next time!”
This incident lays bare the roots of the Western-cum-UN project: for which we must go back to the years 2008/09 and the last phase of Eelam War IV. It is by happen chance, that I have been working up a summarizing article on the politics of Eelam War IV in its last phase at this very moment. Let me spell out pertinent points in capsule form.
A - A secret meeting was convened in Kuala Lumpur in February 2009 involving the head of LTTE International, Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP), plus Rudrakumaran and Jay Maheswaran plus three Norwegian diplomats -- a meeting that clearly had the full backing of USA -- in order to resolve the warring situation in Lanka and, ostensibly, to prevent a potential humanitarian catastrophe involving a massive death toll among the Tamil civilian population corralled by the LTTE.
B - This gathering was preceded or accompanied by the insertion of a PAC recce team into the island to work out the ways and means of effecting this forcible intervention.
C - The Western powers seemed oblivious (conveniently?) to the fact that the LTTE had assembled the civilians in the battle theatre precisely to invite their intervention – so that they in fact became the LTTE’s partners in war.
D - The despatches disclosed by Wikileaks show that, in line with this partisanship and alliance, the US Ambassador in Colombo, Robert Blake, consistently pressurized the GoSL Ministers to institute ceasefire spells, while recognizing that Pirapäharan would never agree to the stilling of his guns … so that ceasefire in his book was a one-way street… And furthermore, …
E - … that, in Despatch 32 January 2, 2009 reporting on the outcomes of a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa to work out measures for the re-settlement of Tamil IDPS, Blake summarily dismissed any reliance on the Social Services Minister: Douglas Devananda, he stressed, “would not be a suitable choice because his paramilitary, the EPDP, had been responsible for the killings and abductions of large numbers of Tamils in Jaffna.” Blake seems to have been blissfully unaware of the stark contradiction resting in his own hand: namely, that USA was sustaining the LTTE as a political entity – Tigers who had piled up a list of massacres, assassinations and huge bomb blast attacks in civilian space that was longer than the proverbial arm… While we must also note …
"Collective identity and belonging are subjective conditions of being moulded over time by many factors"
F - That in another despatch (No. 308 of March 19, 2009) Blake indicated that he had met the Foreign Minister Bogollagama on March 18, and warned him that “the deaths of … tens of thousands of civilians … would cause an international outcry, likely subject the GSL to war crime charges, and almost certainly undermine public support in the U.S. and other donor countries for future reconstruction efforts in the north.”
G - So that this body of evidence led me to this conclusion: “the international cabal was working within the framework of LTTE strategy [and] in effect encouraging the Tigers to sustain their use of the civilians as a defensive formation and a raison d’etre for international intervention. The Sword of Damocles in the form of “war crimes,” therefore, was held over the head of one party to the conflict in a manner that slotted in neatly with the grand strategy of the other party, the LTTE. In other words, in blithely positioning itself as international arbiter, and wrapping itself with a “humanitarian cloak,” USA, the UN bureaucrats working as American agents and its other international allies (embracing AI, HRW and ICG) were aiding and abetting the LTTE”.
H - … and that, as revealed by Daya Gamage, the thinking behind this programme was directed by a line of policy worked out by the US embassy in Sri Lanka from the late 1970s, This policy was revealed quite explicitly by Michael Owens, an Under Secy of State in Washington, on the May 6, 2009: they “had to find a way for the LTTE to surrender arms possibly to a third party in the context of a pause in the fighting, to surrender their arms in exchange for some sort of limited amnesty to at least some members of the LTTE and the beginning of a political process.”
I – The “political process” that Owens was referring to has always been “devolution” in American eyes. It is also the trump card favoured today by such well-meaning agencies as the National Peace Council and the Centre for Policy Alternatives … and, as we can see from his benign presentation, none other than the British Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Field.
"Int’l cabal was working within the framework of LTTE strategy in effect encouraging Tigers to sustain their use of the civilians as a defensive formation"
I am directed here by the long view of a historian wary of well-meant ‘solutions’ that generate fresh and/or deeper problems. From this naïve position I suggest that what Sri Lanka requires is an ingenious constitutional scheme that provides the SL Tamils of the north, those of the Eastern Province and those in Colombo District some clout in the centre and in the Cabinet so that they are brought into the heart of power in an integrated manner. They must reap the benefits (and shortcomings) of any political system so that they develop a stake within it.
This line of gerrymandering must also be bolstered by policies that address identity and subjectivity. The tendency for some Sinhala-speakers to equate the category “Sinhala” with “Lãnkika” must be undermined. The categorization of “ethnic’ in the census compilations and National Identity Card bureau must be re-jigged in radical fashion to generate a selection of labels that enables each individual a choice from; viz.
kolomba chetti lānkika
AND last but not least
Without addressing and reforming the political vocabulary in the vernacular, we cannot expect constitutions to yield the fruits fondly imagined by their framers.
Again, the national anthem must be re-jigged for state occasions so that it is sung in Sinhala and Tamil in the alternate style favoured by the Kiwi and South African rugger teams. The unveiling of this operation to the Sri Lankan people should be at Premadasa Cricket Stadium where a trained choir as well as the pre-prepared cricket team introduce this scheme of patriotic commitment to the public.
Such measures will not produce immediate results. Collective identity and belonging are subjective conditions of being moulded over time by many factors.
Many hands and many modalities of expression must be deployed in the hard yards required for the mind-work that is involved in moulding subjectivity in ways that will assist reconciliation. There is no quick fix.